With a Brilliant Win, Muzychuk Evens Score in Women's World Ch.
ByDYLAN LOEB McCLAINMar 02 — 8:00 AM
The best-of-four match between Anna Muzychuk and Tan Zhongyi is now tied with one game to go in regulation.
With her back nearly against the wall in the final of Women’s World Championship in Tehran, Anna Muzychuk of Ukraine came up with a great performance to win Game 3 of the title match against Tan Zhongyi of China.
The best-of-four match is now tied at 1.5 points apiece. Game 4, which could decide the match is Thursday. If that game is drawn, the match will go to tiebreakers on Friday.
Down one point, and in almost a must-win situation on Wednesday, Muzychuk put together a brilliant attack that annihilated her opponent.
Anna Muzychuk vs. Tan Zhongyi
Women's World Championship |0:04:33-0:25:33 |Round 6.2 |01 Mar 2017 |1-0
1. e4e6Tan returns to the French Defense, with which she did so well in
Game 1. 2. d4d53. Nc3As in Game 1. 3... Nf6Tax is the first one to
vary. In Game 1, she played 3... de4 and had few problems equalizing.
Obviously concerned that Muzychuk would have prepared for that variation, she
adopts the Classical Variation. Unfortunately for Tan, Muzychuk turns out to
be well prepared for this. 4. e5The Steinitz Variation, named after the
first World Champion. 4... Nfd75. f4c56. Nf3Nc67. Be3Both players are
following theory and also playing logically. 7... Be7Black continues her
development, though it was not the only move. For example, 7... a6 made good
sense. 8. Qd2White signals her intent to castle queenside. Castling on
opposite sides is often a prelude to an attack. 8... O-O9. dxc5An
important move. Castling queenside immediately would be a mistake because
Black could then play 9... c4 and Black could then quickly muster an attack. 9... Bxc510. O-O-OQa5Still following a known path. 11. a3Be7An odd
move. There was no threat at the moment, so why retreat? A move like 11... a6,
preparing to expand on the queenside and start the attack seemed more
worthwhile. 12. Bd3The first move that is unusual, though it seems logical.
More common are 12. Kb1 or 12. h4. The problem with this move is that Black
can chase the bishop by playing 12... Nc5. 12... a6There is nothing wrong
with this per se, but if Black had realized the danger, she probably should
have played 12... Nc5. 13. h4b5Continuing with the normal plan in this
type of position. 14. Bxh7+!A bolt from out of the blue. Though this may
not be strictly the best move, it immediately puts tremendous pressure on Black
and it gives White a good chance to win the game. Muzychuk probably prepared
this variation as it would be a bit unnerving to come up with this at the
board given the stakes. 14... Kxh715. Qd3+!A move that has a few purposes:
It prepares to possibly slide the queen across the third rank to the h-file if
it should be opened, and White's queen knight can now move without allowing a
trade of queens. 15... Kg816. Ng5With the not-so-subtle threat of
checkmate. 16... f5Of course Black must stop mate. 17. Nxd5!A very nice
move, much better than 17. Ne6. 17... b4Black is both trying to
counterattack and get her queen over to where the action is to help with the
defense. 18. Nxe7+Nxe719. Bd2?!Rb8?Missing a golden opportunity. After
19... Nd5, Black would be back in the game. 20. Qd6White does not miss her
second chance. She now wins material. 20... Qc5?!20... Qb6 was better, but
Black is busted no matter what. 21. Bxb4?!21. Qe6+ would have been better,
but almost anything should lead to a win at this point. 21... Qxd622. Bxd6Ng623. Nxe6Re824. Bxb8Rxe625. g3The dust has settled and White has a
rook and four! pawns for two knights. White's advantage is overwhelming. 25... Bb726. Rh2Nc526... Bc6 was a little better, but really it does not
make all that much difference at this point. 27. Rd8+Kh728. Bd6Ne429. h5Nh830. h6Nf7The pawn is poisoned 31. Rd7Rxd6Desperation. 32. Rxf7
Dylan Loeb McClain is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He was a staff editor for The New York Times for 18 years and wrote the paper’s chess column from 2006 to 2014. He is now editor-in-chief of WorldChess.com. He is a FIDE master as well.